But with Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, Brandon Triche, and Michael Carter-Williams ahead of him, Cooney had to wait for his time on the floor as a result of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim's decision to redshirt him.
This season, Cooney has been asked to suit up and step up.
Coming into the Big East Conference Tournament final four match-up with the Georgetown Hoyas, Cooney had some strong shooting outings and others where he failed to get anything to fall.
His confidence in his ability to make shots has been a season-long discussion. When looking at the mental aspect of him game, Cooney shared what he has done to become more productive. "I kinda been trying to change my mindset up the last couple games and trying to slow my shot a little bit and just kinda not rush it," said Cooney. "And, I thought I did that in the earlier games."
Looking at the tournament contest with Georgetown, Cooney shared, "My first two threes [versus Georgetown] were not rushed, but my last one was. But, if I just set myself and take my time with my shot, then it feels a lot better coming off my hands." Cooney made both of the attempts that he took his time with and missed the one he rushed.
His first three, coming with 6:25 left in the opening half, provided the Orange with their first lead of the game, at 20-17. The three that followed almost three minutes later, at 3:35, helped to secure the advantage for Syracuse in the first half.
Upon discussing if making shots early helps him play more comfortably, Cooney responded, "Yeah, I mean, once you get the first one out of the way and get going, get your legs underneath and get running up and down, it [is] definitely a lot easier when you know that you've already made one." "My confidence was never down this year," Cooney continued, "but it definitely feels nice to come out and make a couple shots. And it definitely just adds to it, it adds to it. Just to know that you can do it and do it. And hopefully I can come out the next couple games and do that again."
Cooney went 4-for-6 from the field, making two of his three attempts from beyond the arc, to finish with the second-most points for Syracuse in their match versus Georgetown, with 10.
At the break, Cooney led the Orange and all players from both teams with those 10 points, while also grabbing the most first half rebounds (4) for Syracuse.
He saw the importance that he had in helping to obtain a victory for the Orange against their archrival, after having lost two in a row to the Hoyas. "Losing the first two, and, for me, not really doing anything and just to come out in the last game and really come out and be a spark off the bench was big for us," Cooney expressed. "And you add the rivalry into it and the big game, and it was just, it was big. It was big for all of us."
Representing the Syracuse bench, Cooney was not simply proud of what he brought to the game, but what junior center Baye Keita, who also serves a sub, did as well. "It was good just to see me and Baye [Keita] come off the bench and add something to the game, think it really got people going," Cooney remarked.
Continuing with the team aspect of the game, Cooney offered what his success means to a team already with senior forward James Southerland, junior forward C.J. Fair, and senior guard Brandon Triche proving to be dangerous away from the basket. "It just adds to it," Cooney expressed. "I mean, if I'm making shots, it will open up for someone else and then you gotta come out and cover me, which is good."
In the game versus Georgetown, Cooney played in all but five seconds of the final 13:24 of the first half.
Despite his troubles at times this season, he has seen the opportunity Boeheim has offered him, even in the seven games leading into this match with the Hoyas, where Cooney's total minutes for those games were surpassed by his first half minutes versus Georgetown alone. "He's been playing me, and he's played me through missing shots and some mistakes," Cooney stated. "I mean, even when I got in [against Georgetown], I turned it over and he kinda just let me go with it and then I was able to get going...that just shows you the confidence that he had in me all season. And he knows I can make shots and, I mean, I just gotta come out and do that."